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May 2021

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Pauly Shore: The Busiest Man in Comedy
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Pauly Shore: The Busiest Man in Comedy

Pauly Shore was destined to be famous. In the early 1970s his parents founded the Comedy Store, a Los Angeles-based incubator for some of the biggest names in comedy and entertainment through the past five decades. His early life was spent around performers and, with it, their lunacy and excess. As he cultivated his own style and persona, he became part of a youth movement that would have an indelible effect on American culture. A successful special and a highly publicized hosting gig on MTV meant that, for a brief, bright period in the early 1990s, Pauly Shore was everywhere.

It was the age of the slacker. Of surfing dudes and grunge bands. A revised “turn on, tune in, drop out” mentality, but with far better music and Nintendo. Shore fit right into this demographic. His wild attitude, combined with a laid-back vernacular and beach bum aesthetic, was a huge hit with the kids, and Hollywood beckoned.

The breakout feature for Shore was Encino Man (known as California Man in parts of Europe, because it was believed that not enough people would know where or what Encino was). The film came out in 1992, the same year as Wayne’s World and the year after Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. California became the epitome of cool within the youth movement, and Valleyspeak was suddenly, like, inescapable, dude.

Shore’s movie roles continued to draw strong favor with the crowds, though the critics could sometimes be brutal. Not everyone, it seemed, cared for his flippant, uniquely innocent charm. While his appearance in Son in Law (1993) was well-received, In the Army Now (1994) was less so. By the time Bio-Dome (1996) was released, it appeared as if audiences had cooled. While the latter film became a cult hit on VHS and DVD, it took time, and Shore found himself languishing in Hollywood purgatory.

His story was far from over, however. It didn’t take long before the astute and introspective Shore decided to examine his career path, warts and all. He released Pauly Shore Is Dead in 2003, a meta movie in which Shore, waning in popularity, fakes his own death in an attempt to win favor with the public once more. Featuring a top-tier casting call of cameos, the movie became an underground classic, showing a side to the actor that took many by surprise.

Pauly Shore Is Dead set the tone for the coming decades, which would see Shore poke fun at criticism as he explored creative possibilities. Shore found a way to outwit the mainstream media and has been doing so ever since. Over the past few years, he has embraced the internet with a consistent presence across almost every imaginable social media channel. He writes, produces and edits the YouTube shows Pauly Shore Is Quarantined With His Ex On Maui and Pauly Shore’s Rancho Cuatro (in which, each week, he releases a song that is important to him). Additionally, his podcast, Pauly Shore’s Random Rants—in which he explores the bizarre, the banal and the beautiful—has featured stellar appearances from the likes of Fred Durst, Steve-O and Bobby Lee.

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